Cinematography

Day One

I don’t care who you voted for in the presidential election, or who you support now. I don’t want this post to turn into a political flame fest. The video below from Cyprien Clément-Delmas while political in nature is also a reflection of really solid editing, cinematography, and pacing. Shot in black and white on 16mm film, Day One is a reflection of the scene in Washington DC on January 20th, 2017. One of the things I really love about this is how the short film descends from calm to anarchy over the course of four and half minutes. It doesn’t choose sides or make a statement about who’s right and who’s wrong, it simply documents what is happening and edits it together in a way that builds tension and discord. This is a great visual lesson in how to edit and pace a film in order to create atmosphere, mood, and tension.

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Creatures of the Deep

When I first watched this video on Vimeo, I was drawn in by the fantastic cinematography, and the atmosphere that is created in Alan Williams studio. The visuals hooked me but as his story, and discussion about process unfolded, I knew I was here for the full 8-minute duration. After watching it with the sound on, I muted the audio and watched it again, full screen and really looked at the way this was shot, edited, and composed. Ben Cox does a really nice job of framing his shots and using shallow depth of field to focus the viewer on specific elements within the frame. Lighting and color grading come together to really help enhance the story and create a mood that captures Alan Williams personality and the artwork he creates. This short has such a solid look, and great story hooks as well, it’s definitely going in the visual reference library for inspiration at a later date.

Pulse, 3 Weeks Into Winter and I’m Longing For Spring.

Here we are 4 days into 2017, and officially 3 weeks into winter. Tomorrow, we are supposed to get 4 inches of snow, and the high temps are going to maybe hit 20 degrees, which frankly has me longing for my favorite time of the year, mid-May through early July. All of this got me to thinking about the powerful thunderstorms that roll through the midwest fueled by warm moist air blowing up from the Gulf of Mexico and colliding with a cold front rolling in off of the Northern Plains. That got me to searching the internet for some video footage to warm my chilled bones and remind there are just 84 more days until spring.

My discovery this afternoon was the video below by Mike Olbinski. Shot in 4K, color graded to black and white, timed out to just under 5 minutes, it’s absolutely breathtaking. The fact that he had the idea of taking this in a new direction with a black and white post production just makes it. The soundtrack adds to the ominous power of the visuals and makes me long for the opportunity to be able to sit on the sun porch and watch this happening live. (not the tornado part, I like my house). 

If you have the opportunity watch this in 4K on a larger TV. The visuals will knock your socks off. For more info on how Oblinski made it click through here.

Craft. A Modular Camera System.

In the last 20 years there has been a massive change in photography and cinematography technology. Digital changed the game, then smartphones. One thing that has remained fairly constant though is the form factor. Aside from smartphones, digital cameras look and function very similar to an analog film camera. Your fancy DSLR might have upgraded electronics and a digital image processor, but it still looks and functions the same way your old film camera did. Buy a body, buy a bunch of lenses, get the the battery grip, etc. So here comes a new camera company that might just change all that.

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Craft has designed a camera system where every component is interchangeable allowing you to design a system best suited to your needs. While the video below is just a 3D rendering of the yet to be released final product, the system shows promise. This is a modular system with a number of unique innovations, and a very competitive price point for photographers. The website shows a complete 4K video set up for less than 2 grand which is not bad when you consider what you get.

Some of the innovations that I find really intriguing are the hot swappable lens mounts, the ND filter set up, the connectivity module, and the fact that you can build this to fit your needs. Full tech specifactions are at the bottom of this post.

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Technical Specifications (Full technical specifications will be announced early this summer):
HD Video Element, Super 16mm CMOS Sensor with Global Shutter (1920×1080, 1280×720)
4K Video Element, Super 35mm CMOS Sensor with Global Shutter (4096 x 2160, 1920×1080, 1280 x 720)
Frame rates 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, 60
Fast and slow frame rate speeds at intervals up to 120fps
Recording Formats Cinema DNG and ProRes (additional formats will announced).
Dimensions (W x H x D)
Video Elements: (97.15mm x 96mm x 39.68mm) (3.7” x 3.6” x 1.5″)
Store, Battery, Audio Elements: (97.15mm x 96mm x 33.4mm) (3.7” x 3.6”x 1.3″)
LCD Elements: (97.15mm x 96mm x 30mm) (3.7” x 3.6” x 1.2″)
Fully assembled cinema camera: (97.15mm x 96mm x 170mm) (3.7” x 3.6” x 6.6″)

Let Buster Keaton Bust You Out of Your Holiday Shopping Pattern.

Already sick of holiday shopping, the endless garage of spam emails trying to get you to buy more crap, pumpkin spiced this and that, and holiday commercials? I know I am. I did all my shopping online a month ago, and am hiding out in a warm place until January 4th.

If you’re looking for a break from the Christmas Consumer Crush, look no further. Below is a short film from Tony Zhou on Buster Keaton, and how his silent film work from a century ago continues to influence film makers today.

Do yourself a favor, put the plastic back in your wallet and take a few minutes to watch this. Better yet, watch this, then jump over to Vimeo to see all of Tony’s films.

“Before Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson, before Chuck Jones and Jackie Chan, there was Buster Keaton, one of the founding fathers of visual comedy. And nearly 100 years after he first appeared onscreen, we’re still learning from him. Today, i’d like to talk about the artistry (and the thinking) behind his gags. Press the CC button to see the names of the films.”

Portrait of a Letterpress Printer.

This put a smile on my face for a number of reasons. First off it is a really nice documentary short. Beautiful cinematography and editing. Solid story line and an interesting character. An insight into the wisdom that one gets from years of creativity. And then there is the portion of the film, where Mr. William Amer comes full circle to rediscover his passion and spread it to others. Love this little film. Great work from

Veydra Cinema Lenses for M4/3 Cameras

Three years ago when my house was broken into, all of my DSLR gear was stolen. The only gear I had left was my Olympus EP2, and 4/3 lenses for it. At the time I decided to not replace my DSLR, and go exclusively with the Micro 4/3 mirrorless format for both still and video work. One of the biggest challenges has been finding high quality lenses designed specifically for shooting video on a Micro 4/3 camera like the Panasonic GH4 or Olympus OMD. The ones that exist are either cost prohibitive to own, or require an adapter to work with my camera bodies. That is why I got all excited about this new KickStarter project from Veydra.

Veydra is planning on producing a set of premium cinema lens made specifically for filmmakers using Micro 4/3 cameras like the Panasonic GH4, Black Magic Cinema Camera, Olympus OMD, and more. The thing I like is the feature set listed on the site which includes, Resolution that exceeds 4K, Cinema 0.8 module focus and iris gears, Consistent front 80mm outside diameter & 77mm filter threading, Similar length for quick lens changes, Constant T2.2 aperture for easy lighting set ups, Brass plated mounts for durability.

Then there is the price. At $3200.00 for the entire set, this is a bit of a steal. Especially if the quality of the lenses is good as Veydra claims on their KickStarter page. I hope these guys make their goal, because this looks really exciting for the film making community, especially those of us working with small budgets.

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